Pancreatic cancer

Pancreatic cancer refers to cancer that starts in the pancreas. There are two types of cells that make up the pancreas: exocrine cells and endocrine cells. Each type of cell forms different types of tumors and cancers. Knowing the difference between exocrine and endocrine cancers is important because the risk factors, causes, symptoms, treatments and survival rates differ depending on the cancer.

Pancreatic adenocarcinoma is by far the most common type of pancreatic cancer and is the type typically seen in hereditary forms of pancreatic cancer.

How Common Is Pancreatic Cancer?1

3% of new cancers

Pancreatic cancer makes up 3% of all new cancers diagnosed in the US each year.

1 in 66 women

Approximately 1 in 66 women will develop pancreatic cancer in their lifetime.

1 in 66 men

Approximately 1 in 66 men will develop pancreatic cancer in their lifetime.

How Genetic Mutations Increase Pancreatic Cancer Risk

Mutations are rare, but when they exist, they significantly increase cancer risk.

Women and pancreatic cancer risk

Risk among US women to develop pancreatic cancer. 

Men and pancreatic cancer risk

Risk among US men to develop pancreatic cancer.

Interesting Information2

Smoking is a very strong risk factor for pancreatic cancer.

It is estimated that people with a history of smoking cigarettes have twice as high a risk of developing pancreatic cancer compared to non-smokers.

Certain medical conditions can increase risk.

Certain medical conditions such as type 2 diabetes, chronic pancreatitis, liver disease, and the bacteria H. pylori in the stomach increase the risk of pancreatic cancer.

Chemical exposure can increase risk.

Exposure to certain pesticides, dyes, and chemicals used in metal refining may increase the risk of developing pancreatic cancer.

There are factors that can decrease risk.

A factor that can decrease the risk of pancreatic cancer is a lower body mass index (BMI).

Useful Resources


  1. SEER Cancer Statistics Factsheets: Female Breast Cancer
    . Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program, National Cancer Institute Website. Accessed April 7, 2015. Available at
  2. Pancreatic cancer risk factors. American Cancer Society Website. Updated April 05, 2016. Available at